1920s >> 1921 >> no-205-september-1921

Editorial: More Communist Consistency

The Communist Party put forward a candidate for the Caerphilly election. The Election Address, published on the 13th August, in a foreword, pointed out:


  “The opportunity is to be welcomed, too, for the chance it gives the Party of expounding its aims and objects in such a way as will mark it as a force distinct in kind and degree from alike its rivals and the malevolent caricature that these have substituted for the reality of Communism and its Party.
“Pledged as it is to Political Action, the Communist Party is enabled by this opportunity to demonstrate just how far and in what way Revolutionary Political Action differs from the creeping thing the worker has learned to know and to hate as Parliamentarism.”


If the election has provided the Communist Party with an opportunity to explain the meaning of Revolutionary Political Action, then that party has certainly failed to take advantage of this opportunity. There is no indication whatever in the election address of what action the candidate is to take if elected. In fact, this address consists of little more than a few general statements, a few slings at the Labour Party and the Triple Alliance, and the usual thread of sensationalism funning through. Nowhere does it contain information useful to the workers who are urged to vote for the Communist candidate.


Of course, like all so-called “practical” parties who are going to “get there quick,” “immediate” measures had to find a place in the address, and so we learn that “The Communist Party demands for the Unemployed work or maintenance at full Trade Union rates.” The coal-miners, railwaymen, engineers, and so on, find that “full Trade Union rates” are not sufficient to secure them the means of decent living, and consequently they are always struggling to increase these rates. But this insufficient amount, or “Work,” is what the Communist Party demands for the unemployed. Is this, then, what constitutes “Revolutionary Political Action“? The right to work is anything but a revolutionary idea. In fact, the demands for work on the part of the self-styled working class parties incited Paul Lafargue, on one occasion, to write his celebrated pamphlet on the Right to Leisure.


Another of the “revolutionary” demands in this address is Independence for Ireland. The satisfaction of this demand would simply be the setting up of an independent capitalist Ireland, obviously no concern of the working class. It is also curious to note that the demand for Irish Independence immediately follows a paragraph demanding “the solidarity of the Workers in all Lands against the International Class that thrives on their subjection.” The latter demand is in contradiction to the demand for Irish Independence. If the workers of the world unite against the international capitalist class for the overthrow of the system that robs them of the product of their toil, their international policy will be one of opposition to the capitalists of all nations—there is no room for an anti-Socialist policy that includes aiding the capitalists of subject nations to achieve their independence.


The address concludes with the stage heroics of Sinn Fein. The electors are asked to vote for a man who is in gaol! The man is an important point in the business, the duties he is to perform are too insignificant for space to be afforded to describe, them.


From beginning to end the whole address is, in reality, nothing more than an ordinary vote-catching manifesto; sufficiently vague and illusive to bring them a measure of s support from the unthinking.


An election where a Socialist candidate is put forward in the early days of Socialist electoral action, provides information of the progress towards Socialism in the constituency where such a candidate is put forward. If, however, those voting in his favour do so purely on emotional grounds, and if care is not taken to make full use of the opportunity by spreading knowledge of Socialist principles, then the election is useless and a waste of time from the Socialist point of view. Again, if a candidate is returned on a wave of emotion (such as the Communists are trying to stir up in Wales), he cannot take up the Socialist position in Parliament without, sooner or later, arousing the antagonism of certain sections of the voters who sent him there. Emotion, unless backed up by sound knowledge, changes its direction like a weather-cock. The result of such an election would be the arousing of false hopes and a false estimate of progress to be followed by disillusion, disappointment, and depression. Delegates, so compromised at the outset of their Parliamentary activities, are hedged around with pitfalls and foredoomed to further compromising action later on.


It is humorous to remember that prominent members (some of whom are at present on the Executive) of the Communist Party lately proclaimed the utter uselessness of any form of Parliamentary action, and advocated abstention from electoral struggles. But this is on a par with many other absurdities and contradictory policies of this “united” party.